Thursday, October 5, 2017

Ready for the Big One?

In the wake of all the Nature-made disasters that have befallen the world lately – Puerto Rico, Mexico, Florida – the subject of “being ready” has come up. At one dinner, one friend went through all the supplies his neighbors have gathered: one has a year’s supply of food, another has 10,000 rounds of ammunition. His wife said, “I have craft supplies.”

I have craft supplies, too. All the women at the table had craft supplies.

Our neighbor says he’s ready because he has a Prius. My husband said that might buy him two days over the rest of us, but I’m not sure how far he’ll get … or what he’s actually ready for. His back stairs fell down so he doesn’t even have a second exit.

Are you ready?

Well, I was once. When Sophie was a baby, Tim fixed our bookcases to the wall so they couldn’t fall on her (never mind the books), and I stocked the pantry, identified the flashlights, filled water jugs. But after a while, I gave up changing the water, the batteries in the flashlights corroded, and maybe we ate some of the supplies. Then I figured we could just raid the closet with the camping gear – at least we have camping gear.

But now, as I look around me, I realize that with the new-carpet-relocation, bookshelves were moved, and they’re not anchored to the wall anymore. In fact, come the earthquake, if I’m at my computer, I’m squashed. Squashed by craft supplies.

So why am I bothering you (and me) with this issue that gives rise to a massive avoidance response? Avoiding the horrendous “to do” lists of identifying hazards, organizing emergency supplies, even gathering important papers? Just give me some sand to stick my head in.

But Thursday, October 19 is the Great Alaska ShakeOut. At 10:19 a.m., all over the U.S., millions of people will be dropping, covering, and holding on in the world’s largest earthquake drill. I do it every year. It’s a fun way to remind us – wherever we are on that date and that time – however inconvenient it is – that earthquakes are inconvenient, too.

Even if I manage to avoid the pre-drill recommendations (those readiness checklists), I still look around my 10:19 environment: What’s going to come crashing down? What protection is immediately accessible? How do I get away from windows? Call it my exercise in mindfulness….

And then, of course, there’s the theater of it. The website provides sound effects you can put over a P.A. system, but I’m kind of partial to the air horn shock to the system. Then picture everyone scurrying and climbing under tables. At the Literacy Program, there are people who have been in scarier earthquakes than I have – earthquakes in places without building codes – so our preparation will probably include some good stories, too.

So even if you haven’t stored your gallon of water per person per day for three days; met your self-sufficiency requirements for up to two weeks; or even own a crank radio – even if all you have are craft supplies – you can remember what NOT to do:
  • Do NOT get in a doorway (old myth)
  • Do NOT run outside
  • Do NOT believe the so-called “triangle of life” (new myth)
Just Drop, Cover, and Hold On with 100,000 other Alaskans. Sign up today and I’ll meet you under the table.


  1. Yikes. I have craft supplies, but if the power goes out my sewing machine won't work. Should I get a treadle sewing machine or a generator?


Sharing Button